Speed Dating, BIO-Style


Fortune's David Ewing Duncan asks whether a "marriage between pharma and biotech will create more drugs." Pharmaceutical companies, he notes, "are struggling to replenish research development pipelines," whereas biotech firms "have the best ideas for new drugs but are constantly short of cash." But as of the Biotechnology Industry Organization meeting in Chicago last week, he says, the two are coming together. "Pharma showed its love at the BIO event by deploying small armies of business development people to hold thousands of speed-dating sessions with biotech hopefuls during the four-day meeting," Duncan writes, adding, "For many deals, the courtship began during meetings at the big biotech financial meeting held every January in San Francisco by JP Morgan." While it's too soon to tell whether these marriages will last, Duncan says he expects that these new relationships "will increase the odds that more innovative drugs will emerge."

In addition to a stifling

In addition to a stifling bureaucracy, big pharma has not been able to come up with a model to reward it scientists for high fail rates, which is the flip side of adopting innovative approaches. In this environment, scientists follow more conservative approaches for drug discovery; senior management criticizes the lack of internal creativity and looks to the biotech world to feed its pipeline. Of course big pharma will find that going with biotech alone is no panacea, as it has its own limitations.